A Summer Reading Reboot

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Teen SRP 2015 booklet - front cover

Can we just take a moment to reflect on the glory of the 2015 teen summer artwork? Oh, it was everything I’ve always dreamed of.

Anyways.

So every year previous, the summer reading program for teens was the ever-simple ‘fill out an entry form for each item you read’ sort of thing. Simple, I suppose, in that it doesn’t take a lot of work on (most) staff’s part, and it’s easy to explain. Annoying, however, in that counting how many entries were turned in from how many people was always an all-day, spread-out-throughout-the-room sort of day. So many piles! Not to mention the fact that I never really believed those teens who turned in more than twenty or so slips. In fact, to those teens, I want to say, if you weren’t just stuffing the box, please go outside and do something else! Watch some tv!

But perhaps that’s just me.

2015 become the year we finally Changed. We had wanted to turn our summer reading program into more of a summer ‘learning’ experience – which I am very much in favor of, since I think a teen needs to learn from many things, not just re-reading the 70-some issues of One Piece for the chance to win an iPad. Plus I think it’s far more fun to earn a prize rather than to try to win one.

The Teen Advisory Board was also on board, even though it meant the prizes had to be something small – there was no way each teen could get a t-shirt. This is what we talked about while creating our very first learning challenge:

  • There needed to be some sort of reading minimum – it didn’t seem fair to win everything just through the ‘experiences’, which I’ll talk about in a moment. They said that you should have earn at least two points in each box by reading – that way someone doesn’t just do a bunch of other stuff to start, and end up not reading anything.
  • Earning ‘points’ had to be reasonable, but still a challenge. They came up with 20, and you earned a prize after each five.
  • ‘Experiences’ needed to be varied – it didn’t seem fair to only reward those doing science experiments, when there’s plenty to learn from a nature hike or starting a Youtube channel. And they couldn’t all require money or transportation, as both are scarce in our community.
  • Some experiences could only be earned once (ie; you could only create one Youtube channel.)
  • Five manga should count as one book.
  • Prizes:
    • Five points: food coupon (Chipotle was by far the most popular)
    • Ten points: deck of playing cards
    • Fifteen points: drawstring backpack
    • Ten points: book and invitation to a special after-hours event

In the end, the TAB came up with or approved all the experiences, and the ‘reading experiences’ was completely their idea – after all, expanding your reading horizons is as important as anything else! The first time you completed a reading challenge, it was worth TWO points, meaning you could actually complete the entire learning challenge having read only four books (which was a big selling point to some of the more reluctant participants). That proved to be the hardest to explain to both staff and participants alike, but having someone walk away after registering asking ‘What’s a good audiobook to try?’ was fabulous.

The experiences:

  • Attend a library event
  • Attend a concert or play
  • Write/draw a graphic novel & enter our contest
  • Go on a nature hike
  • Visit a museum
  • Start a blog and create 5 entries of original content
  • Get a library card
  • Take a 5-10 mile bike ride
  • Write a book review and submit it to teencentral@wtcpl.org
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Conduct a science experiment
  • Visit a comic book shop
  • Watch a documentary
  • Create a Youtube channel and upload two original videos

Reading experiences:

  • Audiobook
  • Historical fiction
  • Poetry
  • Non-fiction
  • Graphic novel
  • Biography

In the end, we added a few experiences we hadn’t thought about: attending a festival, and watching ten episodes of subtitled anime (which we included as reading). Pictured at top is the cover of the summer  challenge booklet they received upon registering, while below is the inside and back cover.

Teen SRP 2015 booklet - left

Teen SRP 2015 booklet - right

Teen SRP 2015 booklet - back

All in all, it was a success. It was bit hard to determine what the participation would be, and therefore what prizes to purchase, but our numbers were up across the board, so I am happy! We’ll definitely be continuing it this year.

The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Celebration Extravaganza!

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I mentioned awhile ago now that Doctor Who was quite popular among the teens of our library, so when we set about creating our generic “ReImagine Your World @ your library” teen summer reading program, I *knew* I was going to host a Doctor Who event for the 50th.

I just never imagined it would be such a hit.

First & foremost, I am incredibly proud of myself for that flyer. Although I do think I have an eye for graphic design, I have no formal training, and am usually stuck with whatever images I can find through the various royalty-free databases. But that flyer up there, I created the entire thing using shapes in Publisher. Obviously, I printed it on blue paper, but it just worked so well. Everyone IMMEDIATELY knew what it was, & so the marketing worked perfectly.

I decided to host this for all ages – and they came. We had well over 100 people, which the most I’ve ever had at an event. The most amazing thing, though, was that the Facebook event was shared all over the place. I had calls from the next county over, asking about the program. And just… wow. It was so much fun!

forgive the bad quality; it was take with someone's phone

So, what did we do? Well, to begin, I turned the entrance to our meeting room into the TARDIS. I painted a bunch of cardboard blue, hot glued it together to match the doorway (there were plenty of overlaps), use black duct tape for the lines, & then duct taped the whole thing to the door frame. It was a lot of trial & error, but definitely worth it. Everyone had a great time entering the doors only to discover that yes, it’s “bigger on the inside.” Plenty of photos were taken, too.

Food was simple – I made sugar cookie “fish fingers” and small cups of vanilla pudding “custard”!

As for activities…
Van Gogh coloring sheets for the little ones
– Duct tape bowties, which I hear are cool.
– Vote for your favorite Doctor – very close between 10 & 11, with 4 right behind.
– Trivia through space & time
– “Don’t blink!” staring contest – we gave away a Weeping Angel Barbie, and everyone who participated received a “don’t blink” button
Sonic screwdriver pens made with polymer clay
– Gallifreyan name translator using this nifty widget – we printed on blue paper!
TARDIS and Dalek paper toys
Doctor Who at the Proms from 2008 aired throughout the program

Will the Doctor be visiting your library in the future?

Pinterest + Summer Reading = SO MANY IDEAS!

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So hey – are you on Pinterest yet? You really ought to be! It’s turning into an amazing collaboration between every librarian everywhere – I have so many ideas for this summer reading I literally have no idea which ones to use.

This is just a PIECE of my summer reading board

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…lots zombies & stars & everything glow-in-the-dark! It’s going to be a great summer even if the slogan is dumb. No, I’m still not over it.

What I love about Pinterest, as opposed to other bookmarking sites, is that because it’s all visual, it inspires to think beyond what’s being offered. Prior to this, I’d bookmark something, but by the time the program came around, I usually completely forgot about that great thing I found six months ago. Now, I see something, & about a million different ways I could use it goes off in my head, & it’s so much easier to plan things! & because you can organize into little boards, I’ve got each program separated along with miscellaneous boards, & I can visit & see all my ideas every time I work on a program. Love it!

It is still invite-only, but if you throw out to Facebook “I need a Pinterest invite!” I can practically guarantee you’ll get about seven people offering them to you. I had people coming out of the woodwork to give me mine!

In Which I Go Goth

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I challenged the teens to read 500 books during the summer reading program – & if they did, I’d go goth. Well, they delivered, & so I delivered! I assure you I’m usually much more smiley, but that doesn’t seem very goth-like. To Goodwill I went seeking appropriately goth attire, & I hit up Hot Topic for the temporary black hair dye, which is possibly the grossest, thickest stuff to ever touch my hair. Black eyeliner, lipstick, & eyeshadow completed the look.

I think I spent… $10? maybe $15? of my own money, & it was worth every penny. I wore this to our Summer Finale Party & the teens couldn’t have been more delighted at the change in my appearance – apparently there was even some debating going on about whether or not I was goth in high school (for the record, I was not). The teens have promised they’ll meet the even bigger goal next year so I’ll repeat. I highly recommend the experience to everyone!

Silent Library: Around the World Edition

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2011-6 silent library

Silent Library Around the World

I first did a Silent Library program back in the fall for Teen Read Week, & learned two things:

1.) Teens completely fail at being quiet, let alone silent.
2.) They love doing all sorts of silly challenges.

I knew I wanted to do it again, as the kids had a blast & I thought it’d be really fun to tie it into the multicultural theme. I planned out twelve challenges, & created a Powerpoint both to create a fun atmosphere & to teach them something about what they’d be doing. Initially, I had planned for about half of them to do each challenge, but by about the fifth one, everyone wanted to try everything – & who am I to stop curiosity? It was definitely no longer Silent Library, but we all know that if I’d advertised it simply as “Come try different food & activities from around the world!” few teens would have shown. Calling it Silent Library with the tagline “Challenge yourself MTV style to try different things from around the world!” meant I had 30 rowdy teens ready for anything.

The twelve challenges:
01) Hat Dance: Mexico
Using this YouTube video of a high school project, the teens danced along.

02) Try hummus: Middle East
Plain hummus scooped onto pita chips

03) Eat a fried plantain chip: Puerto Rico
Sliced plantain fried on an electric skillet in olive oil, sprinkled with a bit of sugar & salt.

04) Be a prima ballerina: Italy/France
First, we watched this clip from Center Stage, then the teens learned to do a plie watching this video.

05) Coconut water: Tropics
I rationed out about a 2 oz of water for each teen – some of them loved it, others hated it.

06) Talking drums: Africa
Teens echoed a rhythm of my choice with sticks on the floor.

07) Don’t point the brie: France
I served brie, rind & all, on a chunk of French bread. Most teens were brave enough to try the rind, even after learning that it’s mold!

08) Embrace your inner yogi: India
I led teens through a modified Sun Salutation sequence.

09) Mmm… raw fish: Japan
Using chopsticks, teens ate true sushi made with raw fish

10) Eat your avocados!: Mexico
Teens were challenged to eat 1/4 of an avocado without the use of their hands; I also had some chips & guac on hand so they could try it.

11) Better change your lox!: Scandinavia
I served mini-bagels with a smear of cream cheese topped with lox – everyone tried it!

12) Be Lord of the Dance: Ireland
Teens did their best imitation of Irish dancing using the finale from Feet of Flames.

I portioned out the food beforehand; with the only thing that needed cooked was the fried plantains. Set-up took about an hour, & the program itself lasted about an hour & a half. Beforehand, I asked if anyone had any known allergies & told them if we’d be eating anything that contained those foods (as someone with a wheat allergy, I’m completely understanding). Luckily, I didn’t have anyone allergic to fish, so we were good to go!

I will ABSOLUTELY do this again, possibly using some of the stranger food out there. This was so fun, & such a fabulous way to kick off Summer Reading – thanks to MTV for making this show so popular!